- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Reno Aces manager Phil Nevin hopes he’s better at forecasting the future of Arizona’s top minor league prospects, like hard-throwing right-hander Archie Bradley, than at predicting the weather.

The new skipper of the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate decided last week to guarantee nice weather for his debut at their Pacific Coast League opener against El Paso on Thursday night, promising to buy everyone there a ticket to a future game if the mercury doesn’t top 60 degrees at first pitch.

“This is snow, huh? We don’t get this in San Diego,” the California native told reporters as flurries swirled and temperatures hovered in the mid-40s during Tuesday’s media day. “I’m going to buy a lot of tickets it looks like. I got no chance of hitting 60.”

Nevin expects to be closer to the mark when it comes to Bradley, 21, a 6-foot-4 Oklahoma native who was on the Diamondbacks’ 30-man roster that traveled to Australia and competed for a starting role before landing in Reno.

“He has a special arm,” said Nevin, who played for seven major leagues teams from 1995-2006 and managed Triple-A Toledo the last three seasons.

“He’ll light up a radar gun. He’s got a very good breaking ball. He’s working at his craft with his change-up. The thing for Archie is going to be his command, learning how to pitch,” he said.

Arizona drafted Bradley out of high school in 2011 in the first round. Last year at Double-A Mobile, he was the Southern League’s most outstanding pitcher with a 12-5 record, 1.97 ERA, 119 strikeouts and 59 walks over 123 1/3 innings. He reminds Nevin of some other “big, power right-handers” who’ve made it big, including Josh Beckett, Brad Penny and A.J. Burnett.

“When they first came up to the big leagues, their secondary stuff wasn’t necessarily perfected,” Nevin said. “They could get by blowing guys away and throwing hard. But at that level up there, you are going to take your lumps if you’re not able to control and command your other stuff. I think Archie is learning that.”

With the Tigers organization, Nevin saw Justin Verlander “mature from a guy that would go out in the first inning throwing 96, 97 mph and always looking back seeing how hard he can throw.”

“Now, he dials it back a little bit. He understands when he has to add a little bit,” he said. “Archie will get that way. It just takes innings.”

Bradley throws a fastball in the low- to mid-90s, calls his curveball his “strikeout pitch” and says his goal is to get “more consistent at everything.” He admits he would have preferred to start the year at Arizona but is excited about his first scheduled start Sunday in Reno.

“I’m not disappointed in a bad way, just in the way I want to help the Diamondbacks win,” he said. “I want to win in the big leagues, but I’m just here to play baseball here and try to win.”

Bradley said he is “not a big fan of comparisons” but appreciates Nevin’s praise.

“Anytime you hear people talk about you like that, it’s never bad,” he said. “Now I’ve just got to live up to it.”

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